(Editor’s note:  I handwrote this post two full weeks ago, back when the topic was considerably more timely.  All apologies for the delay.)


Fall has been in full swing for several weeks now, and to here, its slate of new music has been uniformly stellar:  the New Kids on the Block have executed one of the most brilliantly maneuvered comebacks in recent pop memory with their startlingly fine (and fun) new record The Block (keep an eye out for this set’s second “Single,” a terrific duet with the white-hot Ne-Yo); led by Caleb Followill’s achingly vulnerable drawl, the Kings of Leon have delivered an intoxicating masterpiece with their superlative fourth album Only By the Night; and top-notch singles from Ray LaMontagne, Brandy, Jon McLaughlin, The Killers (whose latest, the strangely alluring “Human,” is marked by dopey-even-for-them lyrical content — the chorus, swear to Jesus, opens with the line “Are we human / or are we dancer?” — but a brilliant beat that splits the blissful difference betwixt “Somebody Told Me” and “When You Were Young”) and others, which would only indicate that more greatness is imminent.


So as we gear up for the sum total of autumn and its transformative wonders, let’s pause and take a look back at the season just ended.  As summers go, 2008’s was far from the most musically entrancing one we’ve ever witnessed, but thanks to the surprisingly spectacular efforts of a ragtag group of utility players — Jesse McCartney was nobody’s idear of an A-lister prior to June, fair? — a handful of worthy aural treasures emerged from the warm weather months.  And you can count on seeing pretty much all of what follows front and center in the Buzz’s forthcoming best-of-year countdown.


1.  “Shake It”Metro Station (from Metro Station) — Metro Station - Metro Station - Shake It —  the sibs Cyrus had one heck of a summer between them:  brother Trace launched this techno-lite left-field surprise out of one corner…

2.  “Breakout”Miley Cyrus (from Breakout) — Miley Cyrus - Breakout - Breakout — …and from the other, sister Miley chucked the “Hannah Montana” umbrella for a pleasantly plausible walk on the wild side.  (Miles’ delicious come-hither growl almost certainly makes “Fly on the Wall” Miley Cyrus - Breakout - Fly On the Wall the best song on that record, but something about that irresistible title track keeps pulling me back in.)

3.  “Take Me As I Am”Sugarland (from Love on the Inside) — Sugarland - Love On the Inside (Deluxe Fan Edition) - Take Me As I Am — in much the same way that the embarrassing mediocrity that was American Doll Posse broke my heart into thirty-four shards last year, so it came to pass this summer for Jennifer and Kristian — the undisputed class of their genre, believe it — and their middling third record  Love On the Inside, which takes way too long to achieve liftoff (you’re well into track number six before you hear anything even resembling good) and then meanders indefinitely thereafter, hurtling between phenomenal and forgettable and never hitting a solid groove.  Definitely, however, throw this affecting character study about a sassy hotel janitor into the former category; not counting the deluxe edition’s two spine-tingling live covers, this was hands down my favorite song on the album.

4.  “Life in Technicolor” Coldplay (from Viva La Vida) — Coldplay - Viva la Vida - Life In Technicolor — a gorgeous, shape-shifting instrumental piece which almost singlehandedly keeps its album on an even keel, and which gives one a substantial reason to hold optimistic faith in the creative future of its authors.

5.  “Cry for You” September (from Cry for You) — September - Cry for You - EP - Cry for You (Radio Mix) — if you’re like me, you probably think of this beautifully icy Swedish marvel as “Cascada with talent.”

6.  “Sing”Glen Campbell (from Meet Glen Campbell) — Glen Campbell - Meet Glen Campbell - Sing — on the face of it, this project should have been an epic disaster, and while the novelty herein does indeed wear pretty thin when stretched to album length, a handful of the tracks — notably this one, in which Campbell unearths a measure of mirth in the words of an unheralded Travis classic that its author Fran Healy never quite managed to — are positively transcendent.

7.  “Leavin'” Jesse McCartney (from Departure) — Jesse McCartney - Departure - Leavin' — led by a simple but undeniably engrossing videoclip (and, for that matter, lead vocal), this sizzling ode to the art of trading up was, for the Buzz’s money, the single of the summer.

8.  “Rain On Me”Cyndi Lauper (from Bring Ya to the Brink) — Cyndi Lauper - Bring Ya to the Brink - Rain On Me — of course, the text that follows is all pending the quality of Ray LaMontagne’s new disc (not ready to make a declaration on that, am I), but as it currently stands, the Buzz’s two favorite ’08 records are the Kings of Leon’s astonishing (and aforementioned) Only By the Night and Cyndi Lauper’s extraordinarily entertaining Brink, her first full-length foray into the wonders of electronica.  Leave it to me to be drawn to the sad joint on an album that is chockablock with happy-go-lucky fare, but with this heartbreaker, the woman who gave the world “Time After Time” better than two decades ago shows us how humanely attuned a songwriter she remains.

9.  “Shattered (Turn the Car Around)”O.A.R. (from All Sides) — O.A.R. - All Sides - Shattered (Turn the Car Around) — a randy band of road dogs, proudly splitting the (admittedly narrow) difference between Phish and Dave Matthews, finally make good after years of valiant attempts with a propulsive dirge about not quite knowing how to give up on a lost cause.  A smashing vocal performance from Marc Roberge makes this the commercial breakthrough of the summer.

10.  “The Universe” Kacy Crowley (from Cave) — Kacy Crowley - Cave - The Universe —  “sparks fly / I’m on fire / don’t ask why / just be quiet / and listen….” A majestic stunner from one of the great local heroines.  You won’t hear a finer chorus this year.  Or, maybe, ever.

11.  “The Story (I Was Made for You)”Brandi Carlile (from The Story) — Brandi Carlile - The Story - The Story — when all is said and done, summer ’08’s biggest winner may well end up being this young lady, without doubt the Pacific Northwest’s most vitally original export this side of Cobain.  Initially released in the spring of 2007 — and a stiff then, despite prime exposure on a pair of smash “Grey’s Anatomy” outings — the track (and its identically-titled album) became a digital sensation following its appearance in a General Motors ad that played on a continual loop throughout the most-watched Olympic Games in television history.  (Carlile is unquestionably the real deal; check out the time-capsule worthy “Pirate on the Run” Pat Monahan - Last of Seven - Pirate On the Run,   her duet with Train’s lead singer Pat Monahan that appeared on his criminally ignored solo album Last of Seven last fall.)   A raw, blunt declaration of burning love and the healing power of time, “Story” is a knockout; it’s always thrilling to see a tune this terrific get the second chance — VH1 has the video back in heavy rotation, and Columbia is relaunching a massive radio push behind the single — it so richly deserves.



3 responses to “these stories don’t mean anything
when you’ve got no one to tell them to
(or: fare thee well, summer 2008)”

  1. the buzz from A.:

    Long overdue, here is my list of choices from this 11-song playlist:

    1. “The Story” by Brandi Carlile
    2. “Shattered” by OAR
    3. “Rain on Me” by Cyndi Lauper
    4. “The Universe” by Kacy Crowley
    5. “Cry for You” by September
    6. “Sing” by Glen Campbell

    I really like “The Story” and “Shattered.” Those are brilliant.

  2. the buzz from brandon:

    Concise, to the point, I love it. It’s very non-Buzz-like in that regard, but I still love it.

  3. the buzz from A.:

    I am glad you approve! Did you know that Kacy Crowley is playing at Momo’s in Austin today? There’s another chance to see her on November 24.